Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. John's East.
The member for Yorkton—Melville is far too good an MP to honestly believe much of the speech that he just gave in the House of Commons today.
As we speak, history is unfolding in front of Rideau Hall. I understand the podium has been set up and the microphones are being set up so the Prime Minister can make an announcement, and he will likely announce that the Governor General has allowed him to prorogue this House of Commons.
I think this is a terrible shame and it would set a terrible precedent. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our parliamentary democracy that the executive must be accountable to Parliament, to the legislative wing of our democracy. In this sense, the legislative wing, Parliament, the House of Commons, has decreed that it has lost confidence in the government and all it wishes is the opportunity to express that non-confidence in a majority vote scheduled for Monday. The Prime Minister has run behind the apron strings of the sovereign to avoid that necessary vote that should take place on Monday.
It is worrisome if the sovereign, in fact, overrides the will of Parliament. Kings have been beheaded for such things. If that is the case, if this is unfolding as we predict, then we are in a bigger crisis than just the death rattle of a bad government. We are in fact watching just that, the death rattle of a bad government, for the simple reason that the Prime Minister blew it.
The Prime Minister had every opportunity, when he won a minority in the last federal election, to reach across the aisle and cobble together a working coalition, so to speak, of all Parliament because of the economic crisis that we are in. In fact, the evidence of this is how simple and straightforward it was for the three opposition parties to come to agreement in a very short period of time that we needed to work together. That tells me that the Prime Minister could have done the same thing if he had reached across the aisle in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation that one might expect in a period of crisis. If we were all paddling our canoe in the same direction, we could navigate these turbulent waters without this unrest that is unfolding as we speak.
However, no, instead of that simple gesture of goodwill, he reached across the aisle all right but he reached across the aisle to slit his enemies' throats in an aggressive act, a bombastic act and an unnecessarily antagonistic act. Instead of extending his hand in friendship, he slapped the opposition parties in the face. He tried to unleash a veritable wish list of neo-conservative diatribe. He used every little irritant he could think of.
The Conservatives decided to exploit the financial emergency, the crisis we are in, and get rid of the right to strike for public sector unions. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy? They also decided to get rid of all the nuisance pay equity claims. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy? They decided to pull the rug out from under our political oppositions' ability to participate in the next federal election. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy?
That is what has sorely offended Canadians and certainly all three of the opposition parties to the point where they said that enough was enough, that it would not tolerate the bullying any longer. We wanted to get down to business.
The second thing I will speak to is another historic event that is unfolding across the nation as we speak. At this very moment, crowds are gathering in 10 cities across the country, one of which is right outside the House of Commons. A large pro-coalition rally will be taking place there, as it will be in Winnipeg where they expect a crowd of over 1,000 people. Right across the country, Canadians will be expressing their support for the coalition government that is cobbled together between the NDP and the Liberal Party.
I want to take a bit of my time to condemn many of the speakers for the Conservative Party, in the context of this debate, who have been gnashing their teeth and rending their garments in a reckless and irresponsible way, fear-mongering to the point that they are actually hate-mongering toward the people of Quebec.
I have heard people vilify the people of Quebec, with spittle spraying from their mouths, just vehemently condemn the good people of Quebec. They are burning bridges. They are engaged in a scorched earth policy they will live to regret. How are they ever going to go to the people of Quebec in a subsequent federal election to ask for their confidence with the things that those people have been saying in the context of this debate? They are setting the cause of national unity back by decades with their irresponsible, reckless and, I suggest, hateful debate. It really has been an awful thing to witness.
What happened with the coalition that is developing, this exciting prospect, is giving effect to the will of the people as expressed in the last federal election.
A true democrat would accept that majority rules. The majority of Canadians as represented by their elected members of Parliament oppose the Conservative government and oppose the direction in which the government is trying to take us. We are a multi-party democracy. Maybe the era of majority governments in Canada has come to an end. Maybe the government will have to water down its wine somewhat and work with the other parties if it wants to govern this country.
Maybe that is the new political reality the Prime Minister was too slow to realize. Perhaps it was not the Prime Minister, but Tom Flanagan who was too slow to realize. Surely this strategy has Tom Flanagan's stamp all over it. The idea is one of exploiting the economic crisis to smash one's enemies; never let an economic crisis go by without exploiting its virtues. Members should read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. I think it would be a revelation to my colleagues opposite.
In many ways the type of co-operative collaboration between the parties is exactly what Canadians would expect their representatives to do if we are going into a period of economic turbulence. They want Canadian representatives and politicians working together with a common agenda.
Let me say how easy it would have been for the Prime Minister to do the same thing. He could have been a real statesman. He could have stood up and brought the leaders of all the opposition parties into a room and said, “Look, we are going into a really rough period, and just as in a time of war, we are going to have to work together. Let us set aside the things that divide us and agree upon the things that unite us, and move together as a nation until we get past this turbulence”. At least postpone those things that divide us.
That took real leadership from my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois. They admit they are still dedicated to a sovereign nation of Quebec. That is what they care about. That is their right. They were democratically elected to be here. However, they said that they would set that aside for a period of 18 months and maybe longer while we all worked together to get through this turbulence. That is leadership. That should be recognized and acknowledged. I think the Canadian public sees that.
The rest of us have left our political baggage at the door of this place. The Liberals and the NDP have been squabbling and scrapping for as long as anybody can remember, but we have agreed to set aside those things that divide us and work on those common things that we all care about.
One of the nice things about Canada, as all would agree, is that the political spectrum is really quite narrow. We have more things in common than divide us. It is a longer list of things that we jointly care about than what we fight over.
We have simply identified a half dozen important things that we all agree need to be done and we set about creating a coalition that would implement them.
The Prime Minister could have done the exact same thing if he had chosen to be a statesman. Instead, I believe he has created a problem from which he will not recover. Even if the Governor General agrees to prorogue Parliament, this problem will not go away, because no amount of money in the next six weeks is going to buy back the credibility that the Conservatives lost by choosing to be aggressive and bombastic instead of statesman-like.
We had a valuable insight into the true nature of those guys. The veneer was scraped off. We got to see who they really are. They kept up this illusion for a couple of years that they can set aside their radical fringe, but the radical fringe seeped through at the first opportunity and dominated. I believe it skewed the reason of an otherwise decent man, the Prime Minister of Canada. I think he was misled, he got bad advice, and he blew it. We see the consequences today.
He has lost the confidence of Parliament and a new government will take over that represents the majority of Canadians. Its agenda will be one that is necessary and well crafted and it will be implemented quickly.
I am sure my colleague from St. John's East will be able to expand on some of the agenda.